How to protect your hearing
Your ears are delicate systems that need to be cared for and protected in order to maintain your hearing. While it seems quite simple – your ear picks up vibrations which are interpreted by the brain as sound – your hearing can easily be damaged. Like eyesight problems, hearing loss can affect your everyday quality of life, which makes hearing and vision care two of the most issues in home life and occupational health and safety!
In order to protect your hearing, there are several things you can do. First of all, you should try to avoid excessive noise, especially in enclosed spaces. Dangerous noise levels include anything that is 85dB or higher. At these levels, the vibrations of sound can actually damage your ear drums and cause hearing loss.
Some sounds that may be too loud for your ears include:
- Loud concert music
- Construction equipment such as a jackhammer or bulldozer
- Airplane takeoff
- Lawn equipment such as lawnmowers and chainsaws
In some instances it can be difficult to avoid excessive noise. If you have to be exposed to dangerous levels of sound, you should invest in hearing protection devices. There are several options to choose from:
- Ear hearing protection. Devices that fit within the ear are the best option for extended high decibel noise exposure. While you can choose headphones and over-the-ear devices, they may not be as efficient as in-ear devices, and might still allow some noise through when dealing with extreme levels or extended periods of sound. When choosing an in ear protection device, make sure that it fits your ear canal comfortably and doesn't go too far into your ear.
- Electronic hearing protection. Sometimes referred to as noise cancelling headphones, electronic hearing protection works by blocking sound vibrations with padding and material, and replacing the noise with gentler sounds at a lower decibel level. This type of hearing protection is often offered by airlines for the comfort of passengers.
- Shooting hearing protection. Whether you're at a shooting range, working in law enforcement or the military, participating in shooting sports or out hunting, it's important to protect your ears from the extreme decibel levels of firearms. It is especially necessary with firearms that are held close to the ear. You can use either in-ear or over-ear protection, but a combination of both is most effective.
- Custom hearing protection. If you're going to be wearing your hearing protection for long periods of time or on a frequent basis, it's important that it fits properly. Fit will affect both your comfort and the effectiveness of the device. Custom hearing protection is easy and affordable. In-ear devices are custom fit to your ear shape, most often using silicone molds. Because they are shaped to your own ear, they offer a complete seal against dangerous noise levels.
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